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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-18

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 18/11/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece says Ocalan case an issue for all of Europe
  • Mostly peaceful commemorations for Polytechnic anniversary held
  • Chorus of support rises for PKK leader
  • Greece, Cuba hold talks
  • EU figures: Greeks smoke more but less prone to cancer
  • Classics prof: Ancient Greeks were environmentalists
  • OECD draft report cites progress in Greek economy
  • Administrative cost of Greek taxation double the OECD average
  • Bourse ends slightly lower
  • Delta sales, profits increase in '98
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece says Ocalan case an issue for all of Europe

Greece threw a lifeline to Italy yesterday, urging members of the European Union to acknowledge that the crisis over Kurdish leader Abdallah Ocalan was really a problem for all of Europe and must be tackled.

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Mr. Ocalan could have turned up in any of the 15 EU member-states, provoking the same standoff between allied countries that now confronts Rome and Ankara.

The fact that he flew to Italy seeking political asylum should not be a pretext for Europe to turn its back and let Italy go it alone in a crisis of unpredictable dimensions, he said.

The Italian and Turkish prime ministers have clashed verbally over Turkey's demands for the extradition of Mr. Ocalan to stand trial on terrorism charges, which carry the death penalty, and over Italy's warning that constitutionally it cannot do so.

"It really is not an Italian problem or a question of Italian-Turkish relations. It is a European problem," Mr. Papandreou said in an interview during a meeting of European foreign and defence ministers in Rome.

Many European countries are home to thousands of Kurdish refugees from Turkey.

"If we are to act responsibly as the European Union, we should take this issue up and see if we can find ways with the Turkish government, to deal with this in a more appropriate manner according to our common values and common positions."

"What we need to do is for both sides, Turkey and the EU, to say this (Kurdish minority) issue exists. We can't hide from it or solve it through mutual name-calling and recriminations," Mr. Papandreou said.

Today it was the Kurds. Tomorrow the problem might be with Turkey's Islamic parties or another minority or its journalists.

Mr. Papanderou agreed that the first reaction by Italy's EU partners to the Ocalan case was: "Thank God it wasn't us!"

"However, I think the second, cool-headed thought from colleagues was that this is a problem we can't let Italy stand alone with," he added.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, whose country hosts thousands of Kurds and which has banned Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said the crisis could be an opportunity to open up the whole question of Kurdish minority rights.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday expressed the hope that the request for political asylum by Mr. Ocalan in Italy would open the way to a political solution of the Kurdish problem.

Speaking in Rome, where he participated in a meeting of the defence ministers of the WEU, he described as "impossible" a military solution for the Kurdish problem and condemned terrorist violence, whether it originates by individuals, organised groups or the state.

The latest developments signal the definitive end to the military and terrorist conflict with Turkey and the beginning of an effort by the Kurdish people at a purely political level for self-determination and self- government in southeastern Turkey, he said.

Mostly peaceful commemorations for Polytechnic anniversary held

Minor skirmishes between police and self-styled anarchists took place near Omonoia Square in central Athens yesterday afternoon, during the annual march to the US embassy, marking the 1973 students' uprising at the Athens Polytechnic against the military junta then ruling Greece.

The event has in the past been blemished by serious riots and vandalism. Aversion of similar incidents this year is considered largely due to the effective presence of numerous students' groups and workers, as well as draconian security measures around the Polytechnic and other public buildings.

Four thousand police officers were on duty for the march, along with three public prosecutors. The police had orders to act only if violence broke out.

The anarchist youths threw bottles, planks of wood, stones and other objects as well as two firebombs. There were no injuries and riot police were reported to have enclosed the group. Police said they had detained around 140 people when a fight broke out between anarchists and leftists on Stadiou Street.

Chorus of support rises for PKK leader

Ten ruling PASOK deputies yesterday tabled in Parliament a request for discussion of the Kurdish problem, while they also issued a statement requesting the joint initiative of European governments to grant hospitality to Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The statement stressed that "the Greek government, even now...should by joint initiative with the Italian government, as well as the other governments of European countries (Sweden, Austria) to state that Europe grants hospitality to the leader of the Kurdish movement Abdullah Ocalan."

The announcement added that Europe "should accept" Mr. Ocalan and "should reaffirm the priciples and values which comprised the foundations of their democracies."

In addition, 20 prominent figures from the world of arts and letters, science and politics also announced the formation of a committee to support the asylum request of Mr. Ocalan, who is currently being detained in Rome

Members of the committee said they believed Mr. Ocalan's request was "morally, politically and legally just and well-founded", while his extradition to Turkey "should unreservedly be viewed as complicity in the humiliation and eventual death of the leader of a movement who is struggling for the right to live, dignity, human rights and individual liberties of his people which are being blatantly violated in Turkey".

About 29,000 people have been killed in the long-running fight for self- rule between Kurds and Turkish security forces in the southeast of Turkey.

On Saturday, Greece renewed its criticism of Turkey for its military operations against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, and reiterated its support for the self-deter-mination of the Kurds.

In Hania, 34 out of 270 Kurdish refugees rescued off the coast of Crete late last month said they had begun a hunger strike to support the campaign to extend asylum to Mr. Ocalan, saying the Kurdish leader could not be turned over to Turkey "like a lamb t o slaughter".

"What we want is for political asylum to be given to our leader," one of the strikers said.

Greece, Cuba hold talks

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis held talks with his Cuban counterpart Isabelle Alliende yesterday regarding Havana's role in Latin American and Caribbean regional integration, as well as Cuba's progress in human rights issues and efforts to combat drug trafficking.

During talks, Ms Alliende was briefed by Mr. Kranidiotis on Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem and developments in the Balkans.

At a bilateral level, the two sides ascertained very friendly relations, as reflected by the two countries' cooperation in international organisations.

Mr. Kranidiotis told Ms Alliende that Greece intended to support Cuba's participation in the European Union - Latin America - Caribbean summit meeting scheduled for June 1999 in Rio de Janeiro.

Growing cooperation between Greece and Cuba includes a recent decision by Athens to grant development aid to Havana in the form of credit facilities totalling US$10 million, aimed primarily at promoting Greek exports to Cuba.

Mr. Kranidiotis and Ms Alliende discussed bilateral economic and commercial ties against the background of an air transport agreement which paves the way for a direct air link between the two countries.

A shipping agreement is also scheduled which will contain an article on the avoidance of double taxation from shipping profits.

The accord is particularly important to Athens, given that 85 per cent of total trade with Cuba is carried out by vessels belonging to Greek interests.

EU figures: Greeks smoke more but less prone to cancer

Compared to the average European, Greeks smoke more but less prone to cancer; most Greeks are homeowners but live in crowded conditions and show less preference for part-time employment, while they increasingly send their children to universities.

This was the social profile of the average Greek based on a survey on economic and social trends throughout EU member-states, presented yesterday by the European Commission in Brussels.

The survey revealed that although two out of three Europeans generally stated that they "feel well", official data reflected that one in three men and one in four women were attacked by cancer before they reached 75.

Classics prof: Ancient Greeks were environmentalists

Ancient Greeks differed markedly from their descendants in one very contemporary area, a leading Greek academic said yesterday, namely, they cared for the environment.

"I searched the ancient world for elements related to ecology and an initial conclusion is that the ancient world cared about nature - there was a clear ecological tendency in ancient religion," Ioannina University emeritus classics professor Fanis Kakridis told a conference on "Ecology and education in the Mediterranean".

Ancient religion had gods which represented elements of nature as well as a protected physical region around each temple, the 'temenos', in which hunting and any form of intervention in the environment was banned.

Prof. Kakridis said the ancients' 'temenos' was the present-day national forests and reserves.

The conference, organised by the Crete Orthodox Academy and under the aegis of the ministry for education and religious affairs, ends on Sunday.

OECD draft report cites progress in Greek economy

The Greek economy has made progress toward Maastricht Treaty criteria regarding Economic Monetary Union (EMU) accession, according to a draft report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The report, which was released yesterday, also noted the need for tighter fiscal policies in order to force inflation down to the levels prescribed by the Maastricht Treaty.

The draft report stated that annualised inflation is expected to decrease to 3.1 per cent by the end of 1999. If the government follows an even more austere fiscal policy the country will meet Maastricht criteria by mid 2000.

According to the report, the decrease in a special vehicle tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) on power bills will reinforce the decline of inflation. The report added that structural changes planned by the government are expected to contribute to inflation's drop.

OECD also reported that Greece's GDP growth rate is higher than the average of OECD member-states, but it will be lower than forecast by the government.

The report stated that Greece's budget deficit in the broader public sector will be slightly higher than the 2.5 per cent forecast by the government for 1999, mostly due to higher interest rates than projected.

Administrative cost of Greek taxation double the OECD average

The administrative cost of taxation in Greece, the cost on the state budget imposed by the operational spending of tax agencies, is up to two times greater than other OECD countries, a report published yesterday said. The report, by the Centre of Programming and Economic Research (KEPE), revealed that the Greek tax system's administrative cost in relation to revenues totalled 1.61 per cent, a rate significantly higher than other developed countries.

The corresponding rate in Canada was 0.86 per cent. The same rate covers the relative cost of indirect taxes in Greece compared with the rest of the developed world.

Greece's administrative cost on direct taxation was more than double the cost on indirect taxation, the report said.

Bourse ends slightly lower

Profit-taking halted Monday's rally on the Athens Stock Exchange and pushed stock prices slightly lower yesterday.

The general index ended 0.53 percent off to 2,303.86 points in moderate turnover of 44.3 billion drachmas. Volume was 10,672,000 shares.

The market largely ignored a new fall in state bond yields and hopes of a further cut in interest rates by the Bank of Greece on Wednesday.

Sector indices ended lower. Banks fell 0.49 percent, Leasing plunged 5.65 percent, Investment dropped 1.17 percent, Construction eased 1.22 percent, Industrials ended 0.52 percent off, Miscellaneous fell 1.26 percent, Holding dropped 2.05 percent, but Insurance bucked the trend to end 0.19 percent up.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.40 percent higher.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 143 to 97 with another 22 issues unchanged.

Delta sales, profits increase in '98

Delta dairies yesterday announced positive results for the first nine months of 1998, with 17 per cent and 12 per cent increases in sales and profits, respectively.

A company spokesman said that results were owed to limited increases in production cost and management expenses.

Delta last week forged a strategic alliance with Chipita SA aimed at promoting Delta's activities in southeast European markets. It has already secured a 15 per cent stake in a buyout of two croissan production and distribution firms abroad - Star Foods Poland and Star Foods Romania - in which Chipita is involved.

WEATHER

Overcast weather with spells of sunshine will prevail throughout Greece today with rain in the morning in the eastern Aegean Sea, Crete, the Cycladic islands and the Dodecanese. Winds northerly moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Few clouds in Athens with temperatures between 6- 14C. Rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-8C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 277.740 British pound 466.240 Japanese yen (100) 231.136 French franc 49.828 German mark 167.063 Italian lira (100) 16.881 Irish Punt 415.628 Belgian franc 8.098 Finnish mark 54.955 Dutch guilder 148.180 Danish kr. 43.944 Austrian sch. 23.746 Spanish peseta 1.965 Swedish kr. 34.645 Norwegian kr. 37.498 Swiss franc 203.132 Port. Escudo 1.629 Aus. dollar 176.011 Can. dollar 178.778 Cyprus pound 563.277

(C.E.)


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